We’re back on track, last Thursdays of the month. Get you down to Villains from 9 – midnight on April 28th for drink specials and, naturalmente, nerds. Don’t miss the spring re-birth of Nerd Nite Chicago. And come with your presentation ideas in hand, you clever so-n-so.

“Does Size Matter?”

— Jim O’Reilly poses the eternal question. And answers it:

Oh, Hell yes! At least if you are a vertebrate physiologist, like me, or an architect, or the guys with fancy sports cars parked outside the bar. Differences in the dimensions (length, area, mass) of vertebrates are strongly correlated with variation in pretty much every physiological variable we have cared to measure. Tonight, I will try to convince you that whether it is how fast we move, how much we need to eat, or how long we live – differences in body dimensions alone accounts for the vast majority of variation we see in how animals are designed and function. That whole “It’s how you use it” thing is just crap.

Jim O’Reilly is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago where he teaches Anatomy and Physiology to first-year medical students. In a past life, he was a comparative physiologist who studied the evolution of movement – and would now be called a “neuromechanist” if he still went to the lab for things other than coffee and harassing the graduate students.

“A post-Easter recipe for building a church from scratch”

by Trey Hall

And/or how a church, a community of scandalous intellectual and social liaisons, will naturally offend people like Rick Santorum as easily as it does people like Christopher Hitchens. And/or how belief may be overrated. And/or, speaking of nature, why Aristotle would have been a better church planter than Plato.

A nerd by only very specific definitions [editorial comment], Trey Hall is co-pastor at Urban Village Church in Chicago, a southerner who thinks Chicago is one of the best cities in the world, a reader, runner, coffee drinker, public transit junkie, and very novice guitar student.

“How Do We Know What Dead Languages Sounded Like Anyway?”

by David Mihalyfy

How do we know that Napolean existed? How do we know that man landed on the moon? How do we even know that Obama was inaugurated two years ago? We base our knowledge of the past on probability; all we have are some pretty good reasons for believing a lot of things. Historical linguistics, too, assembles and weighs sources of evidence that allow us to figure out what dead languages sounded like. I’ll walk us quickly through the reconstruction of Coptic, the last stage of Egyptian and the language of the Gnostic Gospels. Could knowing what a language sounded like affect interpretation of these controversial texts…?

David Mihalyfy is a PhD candidate at at the University of Chicago Divinity School. When not reading ancient texts in their original languages, he enjoys trashy cult memoirs and small art house films. His last name, in case you’re wondering, is Hungarian.

With warm, nerdy regard,
Rebecca Anderson